South Ossetia ABL: risk of arrest by Russian border guards (photo: Jelger Groeneveld)

[2018 archive] Arrests near ABL South Ossetia

Georgian civilians living around the Administrative Boundary Line frequently experience arrest, abduction and detention by Russian or South Ossetian “border guards” for alleged violation and trespassing of the South Ossetia “border”.

This is the archived 2018 page, click here for the current running year. Jump to 2020, 2019 or 2017.

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23 December 2018

Russian controlled “border guards” arrested a resident of Khurvaleti village for ‘illegally crossing the border’ on 23 December 2018. He was released a day later.

2 November 2018

De facto parliament of Georgia’s South Ossetia region increased the penalty for ‘illegally crossing the border’ with Georgia to $300 as they deemed the current amount of $30 to be ineffective. More than GEL 116.000 ($42.000) has been collected between 2008 and 2017 and added to the separatist budget.

The representative of the border service of the KGB of South Ossetia informed de facto lawmakers that since 1 January 2018 to date 460 people violated the “state border of the republic”, an increase of 10% compared to 2017. [Note: this may include people coming from Russia via Roki as the Georgian numbers don’t match]. He also noted in October 58 violators (53 in September) were detained, of which 44 were fined. 

20 October 2018

Two Georgians from Okami (Kaspi municipality), were detained on 20 October 2018 by “border guards” of South Ossetia near Akhmaji for “violating the border“.

The same day two men (18 and 32) were arrested  by “border guards” of South Ossetia near Lomisi’s St George Church monastery which is located on the ABL. One of the detainees is a temporary resident of the monastery, the other a priest. They were set free the next day “on humane considerations” without penalties.

Usually the clergymen go down to the Ksani Gorge in Tskhinvali controlled territory to get water which is lacking at the monastery. This time a new resident of the monastery went down, who the Russian controlled militia did not know and recognize as from Lomisi, father David explained.

St. George's Church in Lomisi where the arrest took place
St. George’s Church in Lomisi where the arrest took place. Looking towards Tbilisi controlled territory and the Caucasus mountain range.
6 October 2018

Russian controlled forces kidnapped a 50 year old Georgian citizen from the village of Kirbali (Gori municipality) on 6 October 2018. He was detained for so called “illegally crossing the border” near the ABL of South Ossetia. He was released on 9 October together with another detainee and transferred at Ergneti (see below).

29 September 2018

Khurvaleti resident Maia Otinashvili (37) was detained by Russian controlled “border guards” in her village allegedly from her own garden. Villagers said she was near the administrative boundary line when armed individuals detained her and transported her in the direction of Tskhinvali.

On 2 October Maia Otinashvili was sent to 10 days pre-trial detention (instead of 2 months as reported originally) on accusations that also assists people to “illegally cross the border between Georgia and South Ossetia”, receiving payment. Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria shared on 3 October

“We understood from the family of Otinashvili that she was beaten on the Russian military base in Kardzmani village. Even though Otinashvili has a lawyer he was not allowed to see the detainee. None of the independent observers were permitted to see her, which gives credibility to the family’s suspicion that she has been beaten,”

Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were allowed to see Maia Otinashvili in prison later that day, but guidelines prohibit the organization to disclose details to the media. “We will provide the information in a closed format with the responsible state bodies” the ICRC stated. South Ossetian press agency organized local journalists talking to her: she denied the alleged abuse. On 9 October, after 10 days of detention, she was released and transferred to Georgian authorities at Ergneti.  According to South Ossetian “state media” Otinashvili was convicted for “violating the state border” receiving a  probational sentence of one year.

Transfer of two Georgian citizens at Ergneti who were peviously arrested and detained.
Transfer of two Georgian citizens at Ergneti, previously arrested by Russian controlled troops.
Transfer of two Georgian citizens at Ergneti. They were detained on 29 September and 7 October by “border guards” of South Ossetia.
1 September 2018

Two polish citizens were detained on 1 September 2018 by South Ossetian “border guards” in the Java district near the abandoned village of Khoz (Хоз) for allegedly “violating the state border between Georgia and South Ossetia”.  They were trekking to Keli Lake in Truso Gorge. After paying a fine they were released on 3 September and expelled from the South Ossetia region.

28 August 2018

Five Georgian hikers were detained on 28 August 2018 for ‘violating the state border’ with Georgia’s occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), officials from Tskhinvali confirmed. The young hikers from Tbilisi started their journey on 24 August to reach Keli Lake in the pictorial Truso Gorge in the northeastern Georgia in Kazbegi Municipality. They were released and transferred on 30 August.

On the same day a 67 year old shepherd was detained near Balta for ‘violating the state border’ with Georgia’s occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).

31 July 2018

Russian controlled border guards kidnapped a Georgian citizen near Sakorintlo, Kaspi municipality on territory administered by the central Georgian government on 31 July 2018. The State Security Service of Georgia confirmed the man was kidnapped for so called “illegal crossing of border” of South Ossetia.

10 July 2018

According to the KGB of South Ossetia a 40-year-old woman from Rustavi was detained by “border guards” near the village of Balta on 10 July 2018, for “violating the state border regime”. The press service of the State Security Committee added that after facing a court and paying a fine, she violator was expelled back to Tbilisi controlled Georgia.

6 July 2018

Russia-controlled border guards abducted a 28-year-old Georgian citizen in the village of Akhrisi, Gori municipality, near the occupation line with South Ossetia region, on 6 July 2018. Three days later he was released after paying a 2000 RUB (31 USD) fine.

And later that day a 2nd Georgian was arrested for “illegally crossing the border”, near Akhalubani village. 24 year old Giorgi Kujoshvili was taken to the Ardevisi FSB base, only to be released on 10 July, after the fine was paid. According to Imedi News he lives alone, while his relatives live in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia-Alania, Russia).

30 June 2018

A 16 year old high school student from Chvirnisi which is located near the boundary line of South Ossetia was arrested by the so called border guards of South Ossetia on 30 June 2018. He was released two days later after his family paid a fine amounting to 2,000 Russian rubles (31 USD).

29 June 2018

Russian controlled border guards of South Ossetia detained on 29 June 2018 a 94-year-old Georgian citizen in the village of Sakorintlo, Kaspi municipality, on Tbilisi-administered territory. Locals said they saw how armed “border guards” attacked the old man and kidnapped him. It is the second time he was abducted by occupants.

21 June 2018

Caucasian Knot reported two residents of 19 and 27 year old from the “border” village of Bershueti were detained on 21 June 2018 by Russian border guards. According to their relatives, the young men were detained when going to a village chapel, “Georgia Online” reported. They were taken to Tskhinvali.

Villagers said three other local residents were near the chapel together with the two arrested, but they returned to the village before the “border guards” arrived at the place. 

20 June 2018

Caucasian Knot reported based on a South Ossetian KGB press release a 22-year-old Georgian was detained on 20 June 2018 near Ksuisi in Tskhinvali controlled territory. He is a resident from Mereti village (Gori District).

The Tskhinvali de facto District Court opened a case against him under Article 322 of the Russian Criminal Code (“illegal border crossing”) and put him in pre-trial custody for two months “due to repeated violation of the border”.

“It has been established that this person had already been detained in May for a similar offense and was subjected to administrative liability with subsequent expulsion out of South Ossetia,” the KGB said in its statement.

17 June 2018

68 year old shepherd Misha Petriashvili, herding cattle with two fellow villagers, was kidnapped on 17 June 2018 from Akhalubani, Gori district near the ABL of South Ossetia. Locals said the three people were on Georgian controlled territory at the moment of the incident and did not cross the so-called “border”. On 18 June South Ossetian authorities stated they prepared a trial at Tskhinvali District Court.

Near the village of Disevi under de facto control of South Ossetia, a 38 year old resident of Kobuleti was arrested and detained.  Due to his health he was released the next day without penalties, and transferred to Georgian authorities.

16 June 2018

Caucasian Knot reported that according to Georgian “Channel One” Russian controlled militias arrested a woman with two young children near Atotsi on the “border” with South Ossetia. They tried to visit her relatives in South Ossetia, “Georgia-Online” added. Unlike usual, they were not taken to the detention centre in Tskhinvali but were released on site. 

The Georgian village of Atotsi is located on the Georgian-South-Ossetian dividing line. Close to it is the village of Balta, Znaur District, which after the 2008 war got under South ossetian control. Many residents of the two villages are relatives.
15 June 2018

Near the South Ossetian controlled village of Artsevi a 41 year old resident of Kveshi, on Tbilisi controlled territory close to the ABL, was arrested and detained on 15 June 2018. On 18 June information was released by South Ossetian de facto authorities a trial was prepared for so called “violation of the state border”.

6 June 2018

South Ossetian de facto authorities reported 35 people were detained in May for “violating the border regime”, compared to 45 in April.

5 June 2018

On 5 June the South Ossetian de facto authorities announced they would “strengthen control over the state border regime” in June and July by “planning joint activities aimed at preventing violations in the border sphere”.

A priest was detained near Dvani village by Russian controlled “border guards” of South Ossetia in the early morning of 5 June 2018. Ioane Okhanashvili is pastor of Saint George’s Church in Dirbi, located a few kilometres away from the South Ossetian ABL. The priest was released the same day, without a penalty .

Shepherd Teimuraz Dudashvili, 58 years and of Ossetian etnicity, was detained by Russian controlled “border guards” near Tsitelubani on 5 June 2018 while herding his cattle. He was taken by force to Tskhinvali by according to his neighbours, and released a day later.

24 May 2018

A 23-years old resident of Plavi was detained on 24 May 2018 by so-called border guards near the administrative boundary line. He was herding cattle near his land while he was detained for “illegally crossing” the so called border.

17 May 2018

Russia-controlled “border guards” detained on 17 May 2018 near Zemo Dvani a 29 year old Georgian citizen from Tirdznisi village. Locals said that the detained allegedly could not find the way and accidently appeared on the territory which is under Russia’s control. They said the young man who suffers from a serious heart disease, has been detained for “illegal crossing of border”. Due to his health problems he was released the next day without penalties.

25 April 2018

Russian-controlled border guards detained Sergo Darbaidze (50) near the administrative boundary line of Georgia’s South Ossetia region. His family stated he was abducted in the evening of 25 April 2018 when he was herding cattle in his own garden, in Kveshi. Darbaidze was detained for “illegally crossing the border” and was taken to a Tskhinvali detention facility.

His son told media “the territory is controlled by Georgia. After the abduction Sergo phoned me and told me that he was in Tskhinvali detention facility.”

21 April 2018

A Georgian citizen of Kere (Gori municipality), Akaki Misireli (66), was detained near the administrative boundary line of breakaway South Ossetia by “border guards” on 21 April 2018. He was taken to Tskhinvali’s police department for detention. This news led to protests by representatives of the Strength in Unity movement, which, in particular, began to patrol the territory near the village of Kere. After paying a fine in South Ossetia, he was handed over to Georgian law enforcement officers at the roadblock  in Ergneti, on 23 April.

20 April 2018

A 31 year old resident, Soso Dvalishvili, from Gori municipality was detained by South Ossetian “border guards” near Ghromi on 20 April 2018. He was released on April 23 after paying a fine for “violating the border”, together with Akaki Misireli (above).

On 20 April 2018, Elizbar Mestumrishvili (77) was detained by Russian-controlled border guards in Jariasheni (Gori municipality), near the administrative boundary line with South Ossetia. Locals said he was herding cattle on territory controlled by Georgia. After being taken to Tskhinvali for detention he was released the next day.

18 April 2018

A Georgian citizen (52) was detained by Russia-controlled border guards near Plavismani (Gori municipality) on 17 April 2018. According to Georgia’s State Security Service, Tamaz Iluridze was accused of illegally crossing the so-called border. He was released and expelled to Tbilisi controlled territory the next day after paying a fine. Locals said that Iluridze was herding cattle with his neighbor Gela Giunashvili when armed “border guards” detained him. Giunashvili managed to escape and inform the police. According to the residents of the village, the incident took place while the two were on Georgia-controlled territory.

9 April 2018

Traffic police officers in South Ossetia, serving in a stationary post in the village of Avnevi (Znaur district), arrested a 35-year-old Georgian citizen on 9 April 2018.  He crossed the administrative boundary line at Tsnelisi (Znaur district) and was walking to Tskhinvali. He was accused of “illegally crossing the border” and subsequently transferred to the FSB border service in Tskhinvali.

7 April 2018

Two locals of Adzvi village, Eldar Gundishvili and Temur Kazievi, who were illegally detained by Russian occupants on 7 April 2018, were released a day later. Eldar Gundishvili said he was detained while he was grazing his cattle in his own yard.

22 March 2018

Two Georgian citizens of 27 and 41 year old from Akhalsopeli and Adzvi (Gori municipality) were detained on 22 March 2018 by Russian controlled border guards “for violating the state border of South Ossetia”. This happened near Adzvistavi.

14 February 2018

A Georgian and Russian citizen were detained near Tskhinvali controlled Prisi, for alleged “violation of the state border”, RES reported on 14 February 2018.  According to the local KGB the Russian citizen, with the help from the Georgian, “tried to hide from criminal responsibility in Georgia, using the territory of the Republic of South Ossetia as a transit area”. They were transferred to Russian authorities at Roki border checkpoint. 

7 February 2018

A 50 year old citizen of Georgia was taken by Russian controlled forces “for violating the state border regime” near Khelchua, RES reported on 12 February.  The de facto KGB inquiry agencies opened a criminal case under Article 322 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal border crossing), as he has been detained multiple times for similar “offenses” in 2017. The Tskhinvali District Court detained him for the duration of the preliminary investigation (for a period of 2 months)

In January the de facto authorities arrested 19 Georgians for “violation of the state border with Georgia”, the KGB of South Ossetia stated. Most of them were fined.


In April 2018 Georgia’s State Security Service (SSS) released its annual report. It recollects 126 Georgian citizens were illegally detained by Russia-controlled border guards in 2017, at the administrative boundary line with South Ossetia. And 52 others at the Abkhazian administrative boundary line. The individuals were detained for the “illegal crossing of the border” and many of them were released shortly after paying a fine. According to the South Ossetia de facto authorities a total of 514 “violators of the state border with Georgia were detained“, reportedly 11% less than in 2016.

26 November 2017

As a result of long negotiations between the Georgian side and the South Ossetian de facto authorities, Georgian citizen Georgy Giunashvili, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in South Ossetia in 2016, was released.

Caucasian Knot: According to the KGB of South Ossetia, Giorgi Giunashvili was a member of a “self-defense group” in the village of Diseu, Tskhinvali region, which the South Ossetian side considers an illegal armed group. In 2007, Giunashvili detonated a grenade in a crowded place in the village of Khelchua, and in 2008 he allegedly fired at a patrol group of the South Ossetian Defense Ministry. During the meetings in the format of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms, the Georgian side repeatedly demanded the release of Giunashvili. 

3 and 5 November 2017

Two Georgians (46 and 42 yr) were detained on 3 and 5 November 2017 near Balta, near the South Ossetia ABL. The men are residents of nearby Atotsi and Chvrinisi villages. A few days later they were released and handed over to Georgian authorities after a court fined them. 

30 October 2017

A Georgian from the Gori region, Gennady Bestaev, born in 1968, was detained on 30 October 2017 for “illegally crossing the border” near Khelchua in the Tskhinvali region, the KGB press service of South Ossetia reported. He was charged with violating article 322 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal border crossing). “It was established that the person in question had already been detained in August and September of this year for similar offenses and was subjected to administrative liability with subsequent expulsion from the republic,” said a message posted on the committee’s official Facebook page. He was sentenced to two months pre-trial detention.

18 October 2017

A Georgian citizen was detained by “Immigration control officers” of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia on 18 October 2017 in the southwestern outskirts of Tskhinvali “for violating the border”. He was released a few days later after paying a fine.

13 October 2017

Shepherds Kakha Begeluri and Givi Kisiev were detained in the “border zone” today, near their village Tsitelubani. Begeluri contacted his family and told his relatives that they were detained by armed men while he and Kisiev were herding the village cattle. They were taken to the police station in the South Ossetian village of Tsinagar.

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